- Cyril Delevanti, The Night of the Iguana, 1963. Producer Ray Stark wanted John Huston to cameo as the poet Nonno – which was, more or less, Huston’s exact reponse. After all, he was already directing the Tennessee Williams 1961 piece. And that was more than enough for the Grand Old Man. The veteran Delevanti (resembling, say, the father of Jack MacGowran!) took over in another of his 169 screen roles between 1930-1973.
- Sterling Hayden, The Long Goodbye, 1972. Robert Altman cancelled the picture when his pal Dan Blocker died. . “I wasn’t going to do it.” Or not until Huston agreed to take over the role. “Then, John got sick and couldn’t do it.” Altman had already started shooting when an agent suggested his client. “So we went with Sterling. And I’m glad we did.” Huston was once described by Michael Romanoff as “a tall swordfish of a man… and Lincolnesque.”
- James Whitmore, The Serpent’s Egg, 1977. The venerable Huston was called by Swedish film genius regissorIngmar Bergman for his first Hollywood-backed, and totally English-speaking film. Schedules conflicted. Or nerves?
- Albert Finney, Annie, 1981. He had enough on his hands helming his first ever musical. But producer Ray Stark, who persuaded Huston to film the Broadway hit, also suggested he play the titular orphan’s adoptive father, Daddy Warbucks.“No, no,” said John at 75. “I’m too old.”
- Max von Sydow, Conan The Barbarian, 1982. As the wizard of the mounds. Huston had already cameoed for director John Milius in The Wind And The Lion, 1975.
- Feodor Chaliapin, Jr, The Name of the Rose, 1986. Increasingly troubled by eyphsema, Huston passed his monk’s habit to the son of the great Russian bass and the oldest Jr in the business, innaugurating a busy career up to his death six years later at age 81.
- Robert Mitchum, Mr North, 1987.
Mitchum was on a month’s break from TV’s maxi-series, War and Remembrance, when Huston called on a Friday. He’d promised a cameo in his son Danny’s directing debut in Newport, Rhode Island. And had to recast himself. “Not in the best of shape, kid. Might need a favour. Don’t want to let the boy down. Small part. Think you could take over for me, kid, if it comes to that.” Mitchum agreed, “never believing, you know…” On the Tuesday, they called: When could he be there? “Tomorrow night.” And he was in the first shot Thursday morning and visited Huston in hospital.
- Harry Dean Stanton, Mr North, 1987. Even too ill to take a smaller role (already dropped by Burgess Meredith). “The Monster” as Humphrey Bogart called him, died before filming was completed. Much the same fate befell his father…(John’s 48th and last screen role was in Danny’s previous tele-movie, Mister Corbett’s Ghost, 1997).
Birth year: 1906 Death year: 1987 Other name: Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls: 8